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The Effect of Language on
a Human Essay
Effect of Language on a Human
Language is arguably the single differentiating aspect of a human
being to an undomesticated animal. Why is this so? What aspect of
language elevates our intelligence above that of a common cockroach?
After all, if language was created merely as a tool for
communication, it's been proved that almost all animals have a form
of communication. This divide between communication and language has
been discussed in the article, "A Dialogue on Animal Language".
Because there is so much debate concerning what can be considered
language or communication, a clear definition of language must be
stated before its effects on humanity can be determined. For the
purposes of this essay, language is any form of communication that
can accurately and concisely convey a complex thought to another
person. After all, one of the main differences between humans and
animals is the ability to share complex thoughts and emotions.
Francois Truffaut's juxtaposition of the French intellectual, Dr.
Jean Marc Gaspard hard, with the wild Victor demonstrates this.
Language not only enables one to formulate and convey complex
thoughts, it allows the archiving of knowledge, and the creation of
The first humanizing aspect of language is its ability to enable a
person to create a complex thought. Instead of simply acting on
survival instincts, humans can act on motives, for their own
reasons. People are able to create their own beliefs, and
ideologies. In the Dialogue on Animal Language, Guy compares this
ability with bees, who are only capable of "talk[ing] about nectar".
According to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, something cannot exist
without a word representing its meaning. This especially applies to
abstract concepts, like happiness, or time. Can dogs feel joy, if
they don't have a concept of what "joy" is? This idea is also
explored in The Wild Child, as Dr. Itard doubts Victor has ally
concept of justice, until he started teaching him language. However,
after Victor is taught by the professor, he is able to determine
whether or not certain actions are justified, and whether or not to
rebel. This sense of justice, instilled in human beings by society,
is much more advanced than any thought process of a wild animal.
This is why animals never go to war. Their beliefs cannot conflict,
as they do not exist. This ability to formulate ideas and opinions
cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Furthermore, because language can be recorded, knowledge from the
past can be easily archived. Thus, a person's knowledge isn't only
limited by what he learns on his own, but theoretically, he should
have access to a collective of knowledge that was gathered
throughout many millennia. The fact that the teachings of Socrates
and Plato have survived for so long is proof of this. This is also
exemplified when Dr. Itard records his research on Victor for
further generations of people to continue his studies. Because
language can be recorded, humans are able to study something
continuously; and have others continue their studies after death,
much like Plato's revisions of Socrates' earlier philosophies. This
aspect of language ensures that people will be infinitely wiser than
animals, whose knowledge does not extend past basic survival
instinct. Humanity's ability to record and continually improve on
knowledge is the most obvious difference between humans and
Finally, language provides humanity with one of its most defining
aspects, a complex social structure. After all, language is the
backbone of society. Can a society exist without language? The Wild
Child contrasts the image of the solitary boy in the wild, with the
group of civilized hunters. Even if it can, can it ever be as
complex as it is today? In the Dialogue on Animal Language, Dolly
argues that bees have social structure. They do, but on what level?
The queen, and her workers? Contrast this with North America, today.
Conservatives, Liberals, Christians, Muslims, and many other "social
of humanity exist. Language giVes birth to these categories, for it
also allows for the existence of abstract thought. Language is the
basis of both religion and politics. George Orwell's Politics and
the English Language shows how much of an effect language has on
politics, whether it be negative or not. Thus, language provides
humans with individuality. Can we ever say an animal is unique,
without judging its physical characteristics? Therefore, language's
ability to create social, political, and religious divides is also a
major differentiating aspect as to what constitutes as a "person".
In conclusion, language does have an effect on humanity; an effect
more significant than most would think. Language provides us with
abstract concepts, like morals and happiness, and a near-limitless
capacity for knowledge. One could even argue that language allows
the existence of our individuality, and the society we live in.
Would humanity have ever survived without it?